A few years back I had a chance to sit down with some of our friends at CCEF, the Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation, in Philadelphia. This included Ed Welch, a Bible counselor and the author of a wonderful book titled, Running Scared: Fear, Worry, and the God of Rest. Ed has called the battle against anxiety a blessed struggle. I asked him how — how is this struggle against anxiety a blessed struggle?
The battle against fear is a blessed struggle. That sounds a bit odd, doesn’t it? But I think I have said those very things and I have thought those very things, so there is something to it. And here is one of the ways to look at it.
When John Wesley was dying and, allegedly, he had a group of people around him, just speaking and praying and reading the promises of God. And he said to them, “Yes, all these things are true, but the greatest is this. God with us.” And in the struggle with fear, if you are prone to fear and anxiety, it is a wonderful struggle, because it seems as though the most beautiful things that God says are reserved to people who wrestle with fear.
Consider Psalm 23. It all turns on “I am with you,” okay? “I am with you.” I think for those who are interested in larger theological matters, there are these covenant renewal ceremonies that go through the Old Testament where God rehearses the covenant. It seems as though what is happening is that there are people who rightly should be afraid.
Or, consider the covenant with Noah. What is going to happen the next time a cloud comes overhead? And here is the Lord making promises. And the promises to Noah, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to others throughout the Old Testament are consistently, “I know you are going to have reasons to be afraid. Okay? So let me say it again. Let me rehearse my promises to you once again.” So in that sense it is a blessed struggle because you anticipate hearing the most beautiful things that God says to human beings.